Vegetable farmers facing hardship

A farmer watering vegetables in Kozhikode.

A farmer watering vegetables in Kozhikode.   | Photo Credit: S. Rameshkurup

Horticorp fails to pay for vegetables procured from them

P. Abdullakuty, a small farmer from Manjeri, was hoping to meet the expense of his brother’s marriage on Sunday from the money that the Agriculture Department owed him after he auctioned his vegetables at its wholesale market at Vengeri. But his plans have gone awry.

“Now, I have been forced to take loans from financial institutions and relatives. How can a government department do this to a farmer?” he asks.

The Kerala State Horticultural Products Development Corporation (Horticorp), under the Department of Agriculture, owes him around ₹3 lakh for the produce including pumpkin, snake gourd and ash gourd he had auctioned at the Agricultural Urban Wholesale Market. “I am a regular at the auction markets every Monday and Thursday. The Horicorp has been delaying payments for more than six months,” Mr. Abdullakutty says.

To make matter worse for the farmers, especially those cultivating crops in rural areas of Kozhikode and Malappuram districts, the department has stopped the transport subsidy a few months ago. The government gives transportation allowance to farmers depending on the distance travelled and the quantity of the produce transported.

About 200 farmers of Malappuram, Kannur, Palakkad and Kozhikode have registered with the Vengeri market. “It is quite unfortunate that the government brings in an excuse that it has no funds,” says Narayanan Kalpakassery, chairman of Sangha Maithri, an apex body of farmers clubs, and convener of the auction committee.

A solace, however, is that local vegetable traders purchase the produce during the auction. Only after that, the Horticorp purchases all unsold vegetables at rates 10 % higher than in the open market. Significantly, all the vegetables are brought for auctioning after farmers obtain a production certificate from the Agriculture Officer.

The case of K. Kunhimohammed of Malappuram, who travels over 60 km to the market, is no different. “The Horticorp has to reimburse me about ₹2 lakh for all these months. The last payment was done before Onam. Now I am forced to sell off the vegetables at local markets. Only a quarter is sold to the Horticorp,” he says. Another farmer of Mukkom in Kozhikode, Mohammed Haji, says the the farmers’ situation is pathetic. Petitions sent to the Agriculture Minister failed to yield positive results so far.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:28:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/vegetable-farmers-facing-hardship/article25795663.ece

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